A Classic Holiday Celebration 

It’s always a bit nostalgic to rediscover gems from the past. Several holiday classics have recently been reissued for a new generation of readers to enjoy. Some are even sporting new covers and fresh art, but for the sake of reminiscing we’ve featured the original covers. Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, originally published in 1971, is back in print after more than 40 years. This is the story that inspired the classic Jim Henson movie of the same name in 1977. Santa’s Moose, the holiday classic by the author of Danny and the Dinosaur, is also available again–and now with full-color art! This easy reader first appeared in 1979 and quickly became a holiday favorite. Generations of readers have treasured the international holiday classic, Nine Days to Christmas: A Story of Mexico, and its tale of a Mexican girl’s excitement at the approach of Christmas. This winner of the 1960 Caldecott Medal is available once again for a new generation to enjoy. We’ve also reviewed many new holiday titles. Might one of these become a classic as well? Read and judge for yourself!


New Books

The Bear Who Didn’t Want to Miss Christmas by Marie Tibi, illus. by Fabien Ockto Lambert

Little Bear fears he’ll miss Christmas since it’s time to hibernate, but his friends come up with a plan for him to be able to celebrate. This is simply a sweet holiday story about friendship.


A Christmas for Bear by Bonny Becker, illus. by Kady MacDonald Denton

How will Bear and Mouse celebrate Christmas? With pickles and poems of course … and maybe a present or two.  Bear and Mouse first appeared in A Visitor for Bear and have had many adventures since. This holiday edition is perfect for the season.

The Girl who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig, with illustrations by Chris Mould

This chapter book is a companion volume to A Boy Called Christmas which came out last year. Eight-year-old Amelia is a destitute chimney sweep in 1840’s London who is desperately hoping for a Christmas miracle to save her family. Though this is a chapter book, it is interspersed with black and white illustrations that add to the dimension of this heartwarming holiday tale.

Hanukkah Delight! By Lesléa Newman, illus. by Amy Husband

This board book introduces very young children to a Hanukkah celebration. The rhyming text and animal characters provide a nice overview.


Celebrate Christmas: with Carols, Presents, and Peace by Deborah Heiligman

This volume in the Holidays Around the World series by National Geographic, introduces young readers to some of the historical and cultural aspects of Christmas. Beautiful color photographs enhance the text.

Good Night, Reindeer by Denise Brennan-Nelson, illus. by Marco Bucci

In the style of the children’s classic, Goodnight Moon, Santa tucks all of his reindeer in to bed so they’ll get a good night’s rest before their most important journey.

Home for Christmas illus. by Barbi Sido

This lift-the-flap toddler book shows Baby Penguin and her friends as they prepare for Christmas. Lots of interactive fun!

The Itsy Bitsy Dreidel by Jeffrey Burton, illus. by Sanja Rescek

The classic nursery rhyme, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” takes on a Hanukkah twist in this colorful new board book.

Jingle Bells by Susan Jeffers

Jeffers, a Caldecott honor winning artist, brings the lyrics of this popular holiday song to life through her lovely illustrations.

Little Red Ruthie: A Hanukkah Tale by Gloria Koster, illus. by Sue Eastland

A favorite fairy tale and a traditional Jewish holiday get mixed up in this original, entertaining story.

The Little Reindeer by Nicola Killen

A little girl follows the sound of jingling bells to find a reindeer in the woods. After a magical ride through the sky, the reindeer takes her back home as he has other work to do on Christmas Eve. A palette of black, white and red lends interest to the charming illustrations.

Love, Santa by Martha Brockenbrough, illus. by Lee White

This beautiful story is perfect for one-on-one sharing between a parent and child questioning the existence of Santa Claus. It’s told through a series of letters between the young girl and Santa and the girl and her mother.  The watercolor illustrations are just lovely, and many of the letters are included in envelopes attached to pages. According to the author, the idea behind the book began as an online post, which was then published by the New York Times. Several years later it became the heart of the story in this book. It provides a gentle way of navigating that childhood rite of passage, the way in which a child experiences Christmas.

Missile Toe: A Very Confused Christmas by Devin Scillian, illus. by Marty Kelley

This collection of silly poems concentrates on misheard Christmas carol lyrics … missile toe instead of mistletoe, Beth the ham instead of Bethlehem, and so on. Kids that have knowledge of traditional Christmas songs should appreciate the humor. The pencil and watercolor illustrations are lively and add to the silliness.

Nativity by Cynthia Rylant

Rylant offers a simple rendition of the story of the Nativity. The illustrations are done in her typical folk-art style.

Naughty Claudine’s Christmas by Patrick Jennings, illus. by Suzanne Kaufman

Claudine doesn’t like the idea of Santa sneaking into her house at night to deliver presents so she deliberately misbehaves so that she’ll end up on his naughty list. Santa however devises another plan for delivering presents. The illustrations are often small vignettes which complement the text.

The Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, illus. by Antonio Javier Caparo

This newly illustrated edition of the classic poem offers a contemporary setting. The format of the book is large and the illustrations are both dramatic and stunning.

Ninja Claus! by Arree Chung

This is a funny Christmas story sure to be enjoyed by kids who love the ninja craze!

The Nutcracker in Harlem by T. E. McMorrow, illus. by James Ransome

This jazz-inspired retelling of the classic story is set in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance. This reinterpretation is nicely done, and Ransome’s stunning watercolor illustrations bring this favorite holiday ballet to life.

The Nutcracker Mice by Kristin Kladstrup, illus. by Brett Helquist

In this chapter book, the secret Russian Mice Ballet Company is training for their very own performance of the famed ballet below the stage of the Mariinsky Theater in Saint Petersburg, Russia. This is an enjoyable Christmas read and includes wonderful illustrations by Helquist, who did the illustrations for The Series of Unfortunate Events books.

Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares

Two cardinals make their home in a huge evergreen tree. They’re separated when their home is cut down to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City. Their happy reunion is truly a Christmas miracle. An afterword gives a brief history of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition.

Rory the Dinosaur Needs a Christmas Tree by Liz Climo

As Rory and his dad search for the perfect tree, they learn about the true meaning of Christmas, being with the ones you love. The simple story line and appealing illustrations make this the perfect choice for young children.

Santa Rex by Molly Idle

Rex and his dinosaur friends come to help Cordelia and her brother get ready for Christmas. Lots of fun and laughter ensue. Fans of this series will enjoy this holiday addition!

Top Elf by Caleb Zane Huett

In this fun new chapter book, a competition is held to find the next Santa when the jolly old man finally decides to retire.

The 12 Days of Christmas illus. by Greg Pizzoli

In this version a little elephant receives a multitude of gifts, but his parent quickly becomes overwhelmed by the menagerie of animals. But of course, in the end, all is well. This playful edition of the traditional carol is sure to delight young readers.

The 12 Days of Christmas illus. by Emma Randall

Another lovely illustrated version of the classic holiday song, too good not to include! The cover is beautiful … even the endpapers are nicely done!

The 12 Sleighs of Christmas by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illus. by Jake Parker

Santa’s sleigh is in need of repair, so the elves come up with twelve different designs. Which one will Santa choose? The rhyming text and busy illustrations provide much imaginative detail.

Wake Up, Santa! illus. by Pintachan

It’s Christmas, time for Santa and all of his friends to wake up. The paper engineering of this board book allows the sleeping faces to transform into wide-grinned smiles!

Waltz of the Snowflakes by Elly Mackay

This is a stunning wordless tale of a young girl who reluctantly attends a performance of The Nutcracker.

Way Too Many Latkes: A Hanukkah in Chelm by Linda Glaser, illus. by Aleksandar Zolotic

It’s the first night of Hanukkah and Faigel can’t find her latke recipe. Her husband decides to ask the rabbi for help. In Chelm, the village of fools, this becomes a complete disaster!

We Wish for a Monster Christmas by Sue Fleiss, illus. by Claudia Ranucci

Chaos ensues for one family, as two siblings ask Santa for a monster for Christmas. The author has reworked the lyrics of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” which makes this a fun read-aloud … or sing-aloud!


Written by Cecilia Horn and Terri Diebel

Cecilia Horn is currently the Juvenile Collection Development Librarian for the Kenton County Public Library. Terri Diebel is a Children’s Librarian at the Covington Branch. Both hold Masters of Library Science degrees and have worked in the field of Children’s Literature for many years. In recent years, they have collaborated on presentations at local, state, and national library and literature conferences.

“Children’s literature is our passion. Through this blog, we hope to share that enthusiasm and love of children’s books. As children’s literature enthusiasts, our blog name pays homage to the classic children’s poem from 1889, “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod,” by Eugene Field.”

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